Never take your car to one of those oil/lube places!

(Too lame and weak for The Pit. So I am putting it here.)

I purchased a used car a couple days ago. Previous owner mentioned he recently took somewhere for an oil change. None-the-less, I always change the oil ASAP whenever I purchase a car, regardless of what the previous owner says. So today I decided to change the oil in it.

I first tried using my standard, metal oil filter wrench to remove the filter. It wouldn’t budge.

I then use my “better” oil filter wrench. It’s steel with a rubber pad. Still wouldn’t budge. And the rubber pad tore away from the steel band.

I then tried using a wrench made from a solid, rubber strap. It still wouldn’t budge! :mad:

I finally drilled a hole through the filter and stuck a screwdriver through it. (Pic.) I pulled on the screwdriver as hard as I could, and the filter wouldn’t budge. I then pushed on the screwdriver with my foot, and it finally turned. Here is a pic of the filter after I removed it.

Oh, and the screwdriver - a Craftsman Philips I purchased 30 years ago - is now bent. :mad:

There should be a special place in hell for people who use a wrench to tighten oil filters.

I’m impressed that you own three different oil filter wrenches. :eek:

Anyway, congratulations on getting that filter off! :smiley:

hand tighten and extra half turn is all it takes, the wrench tighteners cans fry in hell.
I can’t stand when people tighten them like that, they are sometimes not in very easy to access locations either so it turns an hour oil change project into an afternoon affair.

I will never go to a quick-lube because I am afraid they will replace a quart of oil with ATF or differential fluid or something, it makes my stomach churn and turn.

Anyway, congratulations. There are few feelings more pleasurable than removing something that is stuck (given, it’s usually a bolt or a stripped Torx).

I’m conflicted about those places.

I grew up changing my own oil. My first car was a 1975 VW bus (oh God how I miss that one) and I could change the oil without doing anything more complicated than finding a flat spot and putting on the parking brake. My current ride is so close to the ground that I have to put it up on ramps—that’s after driving it to a friend’s house or my parent’s place because I can’t change the oil in my own driveway—it’s against the rental agreement. So I can either take half a day and buy the oil and filter, drive across town and then some, pull the ramps out of their barn, finesse the car onto them, change the oil, and then reverse the whole process. Additionally, nowadays climbing under the car hurts my back something awful, even with a creeper.

Or I can take it to Oil Can Henry’s and pay them $25 to do it while I sit in the car reading the Dope on my phone. But since they have no vested interest in my car and they tend to hire the folks that can’t even get jobs at the McDonald’s next door, I’m always worried that they’ll forget to do something important like actually put fresh oil in.

Six of one, half a dozen of the other. So I roll with it and take my chances.

Funny enough the reason that I don’t have my VW any more is the engine seized/blew up—after the oil filter unscrewed itself as I was driving down the freeway. That was 2500 miles after I had changed the oil & filter. To this day my dad blames me, saying I didn’t put the filter on tight enough.

It seems to me that the story told in the OP preaches the exact opposite moral from the thread title. If you had taken your car to one of those oil/lube places instead of trying to do it yourself, they would have been the ones who had to deal with the recalcitrant filter.

I’ve got a friend who’s idea of proper torque is “hard as you can”, aka Monkey-Tight.

Lug nuts are one thing, but hand tight is fine for oil filters.


I agree on the oil filter tightness issue. One time I actually tore the housing of the filter off of its threaded hub, and eventually got that off the engine with a pipe wrench on the hub. I had to dismantle other things to get room to work. It took hours.

sorry, but I do all of my own oil changes, and the filters are always, without question, much harder to twist off than they are to install.

This assumes the oil/lube joint would actually replace the oil filter had I taken it there. I suspect some of those places do not touch the filter.

I don’t trust those places from the stories I’ve heard. And the filter is actually the least of my concerns. Over-torquing the drain plug is my biggest concern.

I had a car that welded oil filters to itself every time. Seriously. You could tighten it with 2 fingers dipped in oil and it still required a screw driver to be driven through it for leverage. And yes, I put oil on the gasket before installing it.

Over-tightening a filter can distort the soft gasket and cause a leak, or so I have read. I never saw it happen, myself.

Those places lure you in with the cheap service package, with a goal of selling you more service. The managers/salescritters are given a target price to get every customer/mark to pay. If they are advertising a $29.99 special, they will be told to try to run you up to $80 or so. A long time ago, before I gave up on all of them, I stopped for a quick oil change before going to work. I won’t say the name of the chain, but it rhymed with Econo Lube and Tune. They were working on it, and I got the old, hey buddy, I have to show you something. He wanted to do a radiator flush, which I actually needed to do, but not then, and not by him. We jawed, he warned, I told him to button it up. He did, and, almost all the way up the freeway to work, I started overheating. I managed to get to an exit that I knew had water. The fucker had not replace my radiator cap. Fortunately, he jammed it between the hood and the frame, so it was still there. He had wanted me to come back and let him do the work with an, I told you so.

Never is a long time. Stand there and watch them perform the oil change, tell them what you want and don’t want them to do, never accept any service or product except the oil change. Over decades, I’ve never had a problem

Here’s a good one… I went to a place that always has some sort of special deal going, I only went there because it was close by my house.
They had five guys jumping around like a pit crew. One guy comes to me holding my dip stick, showing me the dirty oil on it. Then starts in on me as in how dirty my engine was internally, claiming it was as bad as he’d seen.
So to play along I asked what I needed to do, without a pause he said I needed a total engine systems cleaning treatment. I asked how much was that going to cost me, again without a pause he said $125.00
I looked at him and told him to get my oil changed that I was not buying into his scam. Bad thing is, this was a national chain of Lube-it centers.

I used to go to one for oil changes and general repairs, but I knew the head mechanic there and a couple of the other guys. After those guys left I went one more time and they didn’t tighten the lug nuts after changing brake pads and I never went back.

I used to do all my own oil changes as well, but as someone else said, cars got too low to the ground and I got sick of climbing under them. That’s when I started bringing my own to the quick lube places. I also ran plenty of our work vehicles over there when I didn’t have time or didn’t feel like doing it.
One trick I was taught was to ask them when they’re done ‘hey, how many zerks did you get?’ It was more just to make sure they actually did it. Funny thing was, I knew one of our trucks had an odd number, so when they’d say 6 or 8, I knew they were just making it up. I’d also check it on my own when I got back. I’ll admit that only once did I find that they hadn’t done it. I ran back and they redid it.

The only had two real problems. The first was was either my mid 90’s Grand Am or my Cavalier. One or the other had the filter in a terrible place. As soon as I could hear them trying to find it, I’d tell them to reach through the passenger wheel well and get it that way, but more than once I’d look up and see them holding the ECU in their hands…they’d actually remove the computer to get at it.

The other problem, the last time I went to one of those places, I believe it was with my Civic. I started up the car and it sounded like someone put on an aftermarket exhaust. Real deep and hallow sounding. Ok, sounds odd, but whatever. All day that noise was bugging me. A few hours later when I got home, I popped the hood and found they didn’t put the oil cap back on. That explained the noise, but what’s worse, the engine was covered in oil. I drove back over, told them what happened and they grabbed an (oddly nearby) bucket of water and dumped it on the engine. I don’t know why they thought that was a good idea.

As for all the upsells, I don’t know, they don’t bother me, but I’ve always been hard to upsell in those situations. Yeah, they sholdn’t be lying to get the upsell, but at the very least, if they do the work, that’s good. There’s plenty of hidden camera type shows that show them not even doing it.

Luckily, now, I lease cars. It’s nice because I just run up to the dealership and get my oil changed (or not, I don’t think they really care), but, my god, why does it take 90+ minutes.

And here’s my thread about them leaving the oil cap off.

I used to take my minivan to Jiffy Lube all the time - I never had a problem. I simply said no to anything they warned and cajoled me about.

One time, though, I actually laughed in the guys face. He told me I needed new wiper blades. I went over, pulled them up, and told him they looked pretty damn good to me, as I had just replaced them 2 weeks before. He gave me a stare, then turned around and walked back into the office.

As I’ve gotten older, I crawl under cars a lot less. I just take it to the local oil change place, but I stay in with them (and looking under) and watch them like a hawk.

On my old truck I liked to run down the checked off list (you know the multi-point examination that they imply is done by teams of Phd mechanical engineers in spotless white lab coats). I’d get down to the “Transmission Fluid Level” item and ask the technician how it was. “Fine sir – I checked it”. Then ask him to point out where in the engine compartment the dipstick was. Eventually he’d realize it was a standard transmission and I’d get a laugh. Once they claimed to have checked the differential oil and I asked tech-bro to show me how he did it. It was a long bed crew cab and I knew from experience the diff couldn’t be reached from the bay – it was too far away. I pointed this out and asked him how he replaced all the dust and dirt* back onto the fill port.

To the OP; In my experience, oil change places tend to leave the filter too loose. They do this to make it easy next time you’re in. Even though I have them do all the dirty work, I shinny under the car when home and see if I can tighten it a bit more by hand. It’s always surprisingly loose. I guess they stay on most of the time, but I’m too nervous to leave it that way.

*If any non-mechanically inclined are reading; you can almost always tell when someone’s checked differential fluid. There will be a little tell-tale oil on the outside of the fill port they opened to check it.